Lead the hunt with this Dragonflight Hunter guide and get more DPS cover image

Lead the hunt with this Dragonflight Hunter guide and get more DPS

Want to be an apex predator? Use our Dragonflight Hunter guide to figure out the Hunter class and get more DPS right now!

Looking for the true secrets to better and more consistent Dragonflight Hunter DPS? Are you spamming Barbed Shot over and over, to no avail? Do you spend more time thinking about which pets to use and not about how to make those pets hit harder? Well, it's not easy. A lot of sites and guides are happy to show you top builds and loadouts but never stop to answer the "why" behind those choices. Well, let Esports.gg be your pack leader with our Dragonflight Hunter guide!

We're going to step you through the best spec and talent loadouts for every occasion, look at gear and enchants, and talk about button rotations. Other guides may tell you what the best Hunters are doing but we're going to tell you how instead.

[Editor's note: This knowledge comes from being a 1446 Mythic+ rated Hunter in the current season. While I am by no means at the top of the leaderboards, this knowledge does come from a basis of understanding the class's mechanics, rotations, and having knowledge on best practices.]

Dragonflight Hunter Guide: Basics

Three specializations to choose from that are all DPS means you know what you're getting into with a Hunter. Damage is the name of the game, and all three do it differently. Here's a rundown of the specs:

  • Beast Mastery: Simple button rotations, highest damage of the three specs, utility can depend greatly based on the chosen pet, AOE damage varies depending on loadouts, highly reliant on cooldowns and procs, only spec that can tame Exotic Beasts
  • Marksmanship: High AOE damage, low utility, increased damage at the cost of not using a pet, struggles to maintain Focus energy
  • Survival: A good mix of burst AOE and single-target damage, great utility, lowest potential max DPS of the three specs, requires a melee weapon, fun and unique rotation/mix of buttons

Which spec is the one for you? For the purposes of this guide we will mostly highlight Beast Mastery. This is due to it being the most common Hunter spec, but also the one with the most damage potential. However, Survival is great if you're looking for something new with a number of fun abilities.

Stat priorities

<em>Graph provided by <a href="https://murlok.io/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener nofollow">Murlok.io</a></em>
Graph provided by Murlok.io

I recently found that I had hit a wall in regards to Hunter DPS gains. My Mythic+ runs were topping out at around 40 million damage total and I just couldn't reach any higher. Finally, after a talk with a fellow guildie I realized the problem: My Hunter had 14 percent critical strike. You'll find that, while Mastery is important as it gives additional pet damage, increased crit is what separates great Hunters from the rest.

Your gear focus should be on pieces with Mastery, Haste, and Crit, with enchants filling in the gaps. Ideally you'll want to land somewhere around 34 percent Crit, 20 percent Haste, and 50 percent Mastery. In the battle of Avoidance versus Leech, go with Avoidance enchants. Depending on what pet you choose you'll be able to gain at least 17 percent Leech.

Beast Mastery talents

While there are deviations, this Dragonflight Hunter guide will go into the specifics of why a Barbed Shot/Kill Command build is optimal. Try as I did, building around Serpent Sting pales in comparison to Kill Command procs and damage. We'll highlight a few choices and options that are up to the individual Hunter.

Hunter class talents

There's no need to take Wilderness Medicine, simply for the fact that damage to your pet will be almost non-existent. More to the point, there's enough AOE healing and Leech healing going on that the pet will self-sustain on its own.

In the battle between Scatter Shot and Binding Shot it will really depend on the situation. Scatter Shot can act as another spell interrupt in a pinch, though it does remove DOTs. Meanwhile, Binding Shot is great in Mythics against large mob pulls or accidental group pulls. For general play I much prefer Scatter Shot thanks to its interrupt abilities.

General wisdom among Hunters is that only a single point needs to go into Serrated Shots. Not only does this save room for dipping down into two separate abilities at the bottom, but the increased damage isn't worth the gain against not taking Death Chakram.

One of the Hunter's best buttons. Death Chakram should be used every time it's up from cooldown. Not only does it do wonderful group damage but the 10 percent overall damage increase and focus regen makes it unskippable. Don't even think about taking Stampede.

Beast Mastery talents

Consider Kindred Spirits as a trap talent. Sure, it looks good on paper but if we're being honest the value is low. Your Focus regeneration as a BM Hunter is off the charts, meaning that the 20 additional max Focus from this takes away from too many other talent choices.

The choice is yours in the battle between Dire Command and Cobra Sting/Hunter's Prey. General wisdom says that the DPS output is higher with Dire COmmand but the proc utility added to Cobra Sting might be worth it. The problem, however, is that Cobra Sting is basically only used when all your other buttons are on cooldown... Which isn't often. Test the results and see for yourself, but Dire Command stacks up far better.

Wailing Arrow offers wonderful utility in Mythic+, with a caveat. In order to maximize its silence you must be able to predict and react to enemy mob cooldowns. Otherwise, it's easy to mess up your shot and not land the Silence. If we're being honest, Marksmen Hunters get far more value out of Wailing Arrow and Beast Masters are much better leaving it alone.

On the subject of pets

There's much debate in Hunter circles as to while pet is the best. However, this Dragonflight Hunter guide is here to give you some hard truth. The best pet is...Whichever one you want. Sure, abilities and cooldowns do differ, but its important to remember that the pet is also a reflection of your style.

Want more health cooldowns to shore up your defenses? Take a Tenacity Spirit Beast such as Bulvinkel who offers access to Fortitude of the Bear and Spirit Mend. Want to make yourself useful in Mythic+ groups? Consider a lust pet like Ayamiss the Hunter, who also offers an anti-healing ability. Looking to look cool? Use some rare pets such as Slurpo, the Incredible Snail and be the hit of the party.

Don't get too in the weeds about it. When it comes to damage they all do the same.

Hunter gear 101

As we mentioned before, Crit, Haste, and Mastery are your go-to statistics. However, if you're curious about best-in-slot items we have a few suggestions:

Embellished items are powerful and the best-in-slot necklace Elemental Lariat is no exception. In addition to a massive stat increase, you can also add up to three sockets for massive gains. If you're looking for a place to dump some gold then go and get one of these bad boys crafted today.

The current best ranged weapon in the game, Neltharax is a holy grail bow for Hunters. This is due to the auto-attack effect on it, meaning that no matter the ilvl a Neltharax is going to get you gains. Slap a High-Intensity Thermal Scanner on the thing and get to cooking.

Not a best-in-slot pick, but the Manic Grieftorch from Vault of the Incarnates pumps out massive damage. Affected by your cooldown stat gains and doing AOE damage, the Torchy also comes in handy as a pick-me-up if a party member dies mid-fight. So, if you're using this thing and it's at the top of your DPS charts be sure to thank your friends for dying so much!

The Hunter tier-set bonus is an absolute must-have. Full stop. Without the full set bonus you're leaving a massive amount of damage on the table. If you don't have the full set then consider shoring up that damage by taking the Barbed Shot damage increase, but it's not quite the same. Luckily, the Revival Catalyst is live and should help you live your best life.

Dragonflight Hunter guide: The rotation

Alright, here's the true secret to the Dragonflight Hunter guide: The proper order of operations for your button rotation matters quite a bit. The meat of your best damage and cooldown procs comes from smart usage of Barbed Shot and Kill Command. After all, the two abilities have a yin and yang quality, so the last thing you want to do is just mash the crap out of em.

If we're being honest, you almost never want to cast Kill Command unless you've first used Barbed Shot to trigger that aforementioned Hunter tier-set bonus. That 20 percent Kill Command damage increase after using Barbed Shot adds up, so your entire goal should be maximizing the usage of both.

Another important note: Spread your Barbed Shots around if fighting a group. This not only increases your overall damage, but it still allows you to use Kill Command on your primary target without losing any of the bonuses.

Likewise, Multi-Shot is vital when fighting more than one mob. Don't just spam that button, as the damage from it is negligible. The real utility comes from proccing Beast Cleave, which makes your pet and your Kill Command hit everything in the area for five seconds. You should be mentally counting that 5 seconds down every time and refreshing Multi-Shot in order to maximize that damage.

Here's a basic opening rotation for those in need:

  • Barbed Shot
  • Multi-Shot
  • Death Chakram
  • Kill Command (to use up your Barbed Shot bonus)
  • Barbed Shot
  • Beastial Wrath (to replenish Barbed Shot)
  • Kill Command
  • Multi-Shot (to refresh Beast Cleave)
  • Barbed Shot
  • Kill Command
  • Cobra Shot (if everything else is on cooldown)

This will be your core rotation throughout, but is also customizable. Trinket abilities, potions, and even a Bloodlust all fit into this example.

Go hunt some beasts!

Hunter is a rewarding class that gets a bad rep. We've all heard the Hunter jokes throughout the years, including sometimes coming from Blizzard directly. I always just kind of agreed with the crowd until I really dedicated myself to playing Hunter in Dragonflight. I found a class that really lets your personal play style and personality shine through, along with some of the best transmogs in the game.

And, look, if we're being honest: Pets are the best. Full stop. I love my snail gang and wouldn't trade them for the world.

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